Oil change ends in $40 council fine for Queenstown builder

by Kim Bowden - Jan 24, 2024

A Queenstown builder says he is "gutted" by what he claims was "unprofessional" behaviour by a council parking officer who delivered him a ticket last week.

Lachlan Dent received a $40 fine on Thursday for parking his 4WD partly on a grass verge outside the property he lives at in Lower Shotover.

He says he noticed a council car pull up across the road from him as he was changing the oil in his own vehicle; he nipped inside to grab a tool he had forgotten and came back to see the council worker "scurrying back to his car", and the infringement notice under his windscreen.

While the Queenstown Lakes District Council has not yet answered questions from Crux on this specific infringement or the actions of the officer involved, a spokesperson says, in general terms, parking on verges is an offence.

"There is signage in the Shotover Country area indicating this and there has been previous education on the matter."

Although residents may be expected to mow them, the spokesperson says the verge is "a council asset and public space not designated or designed for parking".   

Mr Dent's car was not obstructing a footpath - there isn't one on his side of the road, anyway.

He says he usually parks his car fully on the road, but he lives on a bit of a corner and his car has been struck more than once in this location.

So, while changing his oil, a job he reckons takes "all of about half an hour", he decided to pull off the road slightly, for his own safety.

He says he has been used to parking in this manner on weekends too, as traffic increases and his vehicle is parked up for longer while he is not working.

"The situation with parking in Shotover is there are more people living in houses than there are carparks," he says.

"We are forced to park on the road."

However the council spokesperson says, "Being swiped by other vehicles is not considered a legitimate excuse for illegally parking".

"There is a duty for people to comply with parking rules in the district and our officers do patrol known problem areas. We do also receive complaints from the public that are not happy with people breaching parking rules that protect the area they live in."

Mr Dent says he finds it confusing the council officer in his case did not attempt to chat to him about the situation.

"He didn't even give me the time of day.

"He looked at me and I looked at him and he drove away really quickly, you know, to avoid any confrontation, which leads me to believe he knew that what he was doing was wrong."

The council spokesperson says whether or not an enforcement officer engages with a potential offender depends on the circumstances.

Mr Dent admits "he's not usually the sort of guy to call up and complain", but it is his view the issuing of a fine in this situation was "a little bit petty".

He says he considers himself to be "a pretty fair and honest guy".

Once, he recalls helping to pull out an Orbus "stuck in the grass".

He claims the way he was treated was "very unprofessional" and feels "gutted that this is the length the council is going to to oppress the backbone workers that keep this beautiful town running".

While working on his car Mr Dent had a bucket under it to catch old oil.

Main image (Supplied/Lachlan Dent): Builder Lachlan Dent pulled his 4WD vehicle slightly off the road and onto the verge outside his home in Lower Shotover in order to safely change its oil last Thursday; the result for doing so, a $40 fine.


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